Los Angeles homelessness drops slightly in 2018

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles city and county officials on Thursday released the results of this year's homeless count, and while the news is encouraging, the numbers show there's still a lot of work to be done.

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, in 2018, homelessness in the county dropped to just over 53,000, which is down 3 percent from last year. In the city, it dropped by 5 percent, to about 31,500.

Veteran homelessness was reportedly reduced by 18 percent.

"We ought to give a big round of applause and a thank you to the voters of the county of Los Angeles," said L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

RELATED: Homeless shelter construction fast-tracked in LA
EMBED More News Videos

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a directive aimed at streamlining the process for standing up temporary homeless shelters throughout the city.

City and county-wide measures, like Measure H, are considered to be some of the contributing factors.

Still, more people are falling into homelessness for the first time.

"The forces that are pushing people into homelessness are indeed growing stronger," said L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn. "And housing in L.A. County is more unaffordable than ever before."

In December, a professor with the United Nations accused cities including Los Angeles of relying on criminalization to conceal homelessness -- considering the numbers an undercount.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the results are more accurate each year, and elected officials argued they are not turning to policing on this issue.

"The political will in this town is not to arrest the homeless. We don't want to criminalize someone for being homeless," Hahn added. "And I think that's changing, and I'm happy about that."

Thursday's report released by LAHSA also highlighted the county's growing affordable housing crisis.
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.